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Potted olive tree and a runaway root


I have a olive tree potted in my back garden, south facing. It's doing well, I feed it regularly and the leaves are silvery green. It seems to be thriving in Kent.  The tree is 9 foot high and it's in a glazed clay pot about 2.5 feet high with plenty of space.

I went to move the pot the other day and discovered a thick root has grown out of the draining hole in the centre and though a crack in the patio into the ground beneath. Will I damage the tree if I cut the root and is this a sign that I should be repotting it or giving it a permanent home. Any advice gratefully received.



  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    edited April 2020
    The tree will very likely suffer from water loss when you cut the root so will need extra care and attention given to watering until it recovers.  it might be an idea to trim it back to reduce the amount of leaf area, which will reduce water loss through those.  I think you'll need to take it out of the pot and and put some crocks at the bottom to help prevent the hole being bocked by new roots which will form after you cut the one going through the hole.  If the drainage is impeded then the pot will collect water at the bottom and the roots will start to die, eventually killing the tree (olives hate wet feet.)  It does sound like it would now prefer a permanent home in the ground though.
    I had this happen to a dwarf plum tree in a container and it took a couple of years being in the ground until it started growing healthily again.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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